More Injuries at Tuesday's Practice

With an already patchwork offensive line, it's beyond worrisome when perhaps your best and most experienced OL, tackle Micah Kia, leaves practice with an injury. The linebacking unit is juggled, too, to make up for an injured starter...

The UCLA football program has gone to DefCon 2 in terms of injuries.

Micah Kia, one of the projected stalwarts of an already patchwork offensive line, injured his hand in practice Tuesday, during special teams drills. He is expected to undergo X-rays.

As Head Coach Rick Neuheisel said in his post-practice comments, Kia would still be able to play if he broke his hand.

In his place was Brandon Bennett working with the first-string offensive line.

Kyle Bosworth, the starting weakside linebacker, left practice with a groin injury. We were told they didn't expect it to be serious, but that threw the linebacking group into a tizzy during the scrimmages at the end of practice. First, freshman Sean Westgate, who admittedly looks to be about 5-11 and 180, was working with the ones in place of Bosworth at the weakside spot. Then, linebacker coach Chuck Bullough opted for Steve Sloan to work up with the 1s at middle linebacker, and slid over Reggie Carter, who was in a red, no-hit jersey, to the weakside.

Carter, of course, was the starter at the weakside spot last season, but was moved into the middle linebacker spot this season. He's also been out for about a week, recovering from a concussion.

Strongside starter (so far, anyway), John Hale, also got some time at the MIKE (middle linebacker), and Akeem Ayers then worked with the 1s at strongside.

Josh Edwards, who many projected to be the starter at weakside, was dressed and did light individual work, but didn't participate in the scrimmages.

The story Tuesday was about injuries. There were practically enough players in the red, no-hit jerseys to make a separate team.

In red were tight end Logan Paulsen, offensive lineman Jess Ward, safety Glenn Love, freshman safety E.J. Woods, and cornerback Chris Meadows. Dressed but not partcipating much were receiver Taylor Embree, offensive lineman Mike Harris and Edwards. Newly injured were freshman offensive lineman Jeff Baca, who will have an MRI on his left knee (Baca had just begun running with the 2s at tackle when he injured his knee Monday), freshman linebacker Patrick Larimore (back spasms) and freshman cornerback Andrew Abbott, who Defensive Coordinator DeWayne Walker has been very high on. Abbott injured his knee.

The defensive personnel are definitely interesting to watch. In the nickel package, it appears that Carter and Ayers are the two designated ‘backers, probably because they're the best in pass coverage. Korey Bosworth, the defensive end, will at times stand up and play like a linebacker. Reginald Stokes, the sophomore defensive end, is at times playing with the 1s.

Tuesday, cornerback Michael Norris had a good day in coverage, getting an interception and a number of break-ups.

On offense, it appears that Nelson Rosario has pulled ahead of the other freshman receivers in terms of the receiver rotation. He was rotating in with the first-string offense among Marcus Everett, Dominique Johnson and Terrence Austin. The other freshmen – Antwon Moutra and Jerry Johnson – are still, though, getting a great deal of work, some with the 1s, and definitely with the 2s.

The 6-5 Rosario had a good day Tuesday, catching a nice ball on a stop-and-go against 5-9 corner Courtney Viney.

In the early passing drills, when Neuheisel had the quarterbacks throwing 20-yard outs, he would have the QBs do push-ups for every bad throw. At one time, when Kevin Craft, Osaar Rasshan and Kevin Prince were throwing, all three were on the ground at the same time doing push-ups.

Craft is improving, making quicker reads and making better throws. He still struggles at times, but the bad reps are getting more infrequent. He threw a nice ball to Dominique Johnson down the sideline on a go route that hit Johnson in stride. But then threw an interception to Ayers, who stepped in front of a short dump-off.

He's obviously not going to compete for the #1 or #2 spots this season, but don't count out freshman quarterback Nick Crissman in the future. Yes, he does have an unorthodox throwing motion, but he gets the ball to its spot efficiently too much to be dismissed. He threw probably the best ball of the day Tuesday when he placed one perfectly on the outside shoulder of receiver Ryan Graves for a 30-yard touchdown, against solid coverage by Alterraun Verner.

Running back Chane Moline, who has a history with a broken wrist and thumb, had it taped Tuesday.

There were also some trick plays practiced Tuesday which we can't describe in detail.

Wednesday is the last day practices are open to the public.

Spaulding Field got a scare when legendary former UCLA track coach Jim Bush collapsed during practice. Paramedics arrived, checked his vitals and determined that the 82-year-old, who consults for the football team, was de-hydrated. He was resting comfortably at his home later Tuesday.

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